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By Rylie Friesen–
In a video that quickly circulated after being posted on social media this month, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ronald Lawrence earned praise for a speech addressing the profession of law enforcement during a tumultuous time in America.
Lawrence’s speech was originally given in September at an annual Sacramento Law Enforcement Chaplaincy event, which was was held virtually this year.
The police chief’s message centered on policing in America, crediting police officers as “members of a small segment of society who are willing to sacrifice their own personal well-being for the sanctity of others at the detriment of their own sanctity and safety, and forgo their own comforts of life.”
“What level of sacrifice is required to be a guardian of truth, justice and a protector of society?” questions Lawrence in the beginning of his 12-minute speech. “What kind of strength and skill is needed for an individual to be brave enough to enforce the laws enacted by elected officials and the voting populous to ensure our society is free from chaos and anarchy?”
Citing examples from American history, Lawrence noted the Boston Massacre in 1770, where British soldiers “took the heat” from rioting crowds. He also noted the 1920’s and 30’s were some of the deadliest decades for officers.
More than 300 police officers were killed in 1930, with that number dropping to roughly half that in more recent years, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Referencing national controversy over policing, Lawrence offered a response to some who might say “these are horrible times to be in law enforcement.”
“I suggest to you that these are the best of times. You’re here for a reason,” he said. “You get to help define what the future of policing looks like.”
The video recording of the police chief’s speech received hundreds of likes, comments and shares when posted on Facebook earlier this month, with many describing it as “powerful” and “moving.” But Lawrence’s message was also not without criticism.
A handful of social media comments expressed criticism of police use of force, one of which Lawrence personally responded to with an invitation to discuss the concerns.
In his speech, Lawrence also addressed criticism of police and said the profession comes with a higher level of scrutiny, and “rightfully so.” He also credited California with leading the nation in use-of-force policies, which include verbal warnings, de-escalation tactics, and a mandate to render first aid immediately after such incidents.
“I pray for better times in America, I pray that the social divide we see goes away,” said Lawrence in concluding remarks. “I firmly believe that better days lay ahead and the American police officer will continue to be the front line of peace and tranquility in our local communities.”
Lawrence’s speech can be viewed online: click here.
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